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Remake (1996)

Remake (1996)
3.37 of 5 Votes: 5
0553574418 (ISBN13: 9780553574418)
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Remake (1996)
Remake (1996)

About book: I adore Connie Willis and I have trawled through her major and popular works with absolute glee. Now I'm left with the leftovers. The three-starers. And while it does hurt to say that a little, it is great to recognise that even those you worship have their no-so-greats. But it's also promising that the worst I have read from Connie is still three-star worthy.'Remake' is set in the near future where Hollywood has gone so far up it's own ass that it is not making any new material at all. Well not live action anyway. Computer graphics have gotten to the level where they can mimic any actor, and can replace any actor and alter any footage in a pre-existing movie. So what you get is constant remake after remake, gritty reboots starring John Wayne, rom-coms starring actors and actresses in their primes when they could have at least been grandparent/grandchild. In this world we follow the main character, unnamed throughout. He works altering footage for the studios; freelance by inserting executives lovers into old footage, and officially deleting alcohol from old movies. Yes, they have gone that far. Our main character meets a mysterious and different young lady at a schmoozing event. One that hasn't had surgery took look just like Marilyn. She tells him of her dreams to dance in old school musicals. But no musical has been made or remade for years. But just as quick as she comes into the scene, she disappears. Until the main character spots her face again in the line of his work. What you get is a bit like a Philip K. Dick, in that the mysterious female drives the main man crazy and she is always elusive and mysterious. But this is Connie Willis, so you get better characterisation than Dick. But for a Willis, you do draw the short straw. I did find that I did not sympathise much with the main character. He was a bit of a douche. So that does detract from your enjoyment somewhat.There are still typical Connie Willis-isms here, with a bit of dramatic tension and a nerd-like obsession for details. Connie really does know how to write the nerd. But it is pretty light on her strengths; humour, characters that you fall in love with and dramatic tension. Maybe a person more familiar with Hollywood output from 1930-1950 would appreciate this a bit more, but still, it's no 'Doomsday Book' or 'To Say Nothing of the Dog'.

Ce bouquin est une étrangeté, un extra-terrestre qu’on peut classer en SF à défaut de le classer ailleurs, mais qui a aussi peu à voir avec le reste que, par exemple, Marilyn Monroe et les samouraïs du Père Noël. Pour raconter le bouquin sans dévoiler l’intrigue, le héros travaille comme cinématicien pour créer de nouveaux films à partir d’anciennes bandes retouchées (par exemple, Terminator avec Julia Roberts et Steeve McQueen) et, un beau jour, ce type découvre la femme qu’il aime en fond d’une comédie musicale en train de danser, ce qui est précisément son rêve. Du coup, alors même qu’il rectifie les images politiquement incorrectes d’anciennes bandes, il essaye de comprendre pourqui et comment cette fille s’est retrouvée là. Avant tout, il s’agit donc d’un roman d’ambiance hollywwodienne. on y retrouve donc la faune américaine, toutes les serveuses de bar qui ont du talent et un scénario, les agents de star minables, cette espèce de débauche puritaine, et, surtout, surtout, des films et des répliques de films partout, ce qui m’a donné honte de connaître aussi mal et aussi peu le vieux cinéma américain, car, à mon sens, au moins la moitié des répliques du héros, si ce n’est toutes, sont issues de films, anciens ou récents. Entre ça, la recréation de scènes de films, et le visionnage continu de tous ces succès, on se croirait dans une version romancée, mais terriblement mieux faite, de ces spéciailités américaines que peuvent être des hot shots, scary movie et tant d’autres. Bref, ça se laisse très bien lire, mis à part peut-être la conclusion qui arrive un peu comme un cheveu sur la soupe et se retrouve bâclée en une trentaine de pages. Mais cette mauvaise conclusion ne m’ôte pas de la tête l’idée qu’il s’agit là d’un de ces chefs d’oeuvre injustement méconnus dont la SF est si bonne pourvoyeuse. Lisez-le, vous verrez à quel point c’est une histoire bien troussée, dans une ambiance marrante. Bien sûr, ça n’est pas la révélation métaphysique du siècle, mais c’est vraiment un bouquin marrant.
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That was a fun little read. I thought it an interesting concept Willis had going there with the remake of movies with digital images of movie actors/actress favorites or paying to put your face into a classic role. I remember when they first started playing around with digital images of actors long gone and it crossed computer folks' minds to make new movies with long gone movie stars. Of course, it didn't happen. Anyway... I enjoyed this tale and the main characters. It wasn't my favorite Connie Willis story but it certainly held my attention and I got a few chuckles. I especially liked it towards the end and the author pulls it together nicely. Note: This was a book that I received from a member at
Samantha Glasser
Connie Willis is my reading soulmate. Rarely does an author come along who book after book makes you feel that they know you and what is swimming in your mind. From my interest in history and time travel stories, to my odd fascination with the Titanic, and my obsession with old movies, Willis found a way to tap into my interests even before I knew they were my interests. This book was great fun to read because I love old movies and Willis references many of them here, from classics like Casablanca and On the Town to more obscure favorites like Two Girls and a Sailor and Two Weeks With Love. It is all about a future where movie studios no longer make new, live action movies, especially not expensive musicals. Instead they use archival altered footage from old movies to make new ones, and remakes abound. Our protagonist works for the studio (under Mayer at MGM, only not the real Mayer) altering old movies for various purposes, including sanitization. At a drug-fueled party he meets Alis, an aspiring actress who came to Hollywood to learn to dance. Her dream would be to dance with Fred Astaire, but of course since that is impossible unless a computer makes it happen, she will settle to be able to dance as well as he does. However, in this world, there are no dance instructors because they're unneccesary; why make new musicals when you can borrow from the best old ones for practically nothing? There are a lot of comments here on the studios, Hollywood's uninspired methods of film making, plastic surgery, and drug use. I found it to be a worthwhile read but it feels more like a lengthy short story than a fully developed novel, and I fear that readers with no interest in film history would find it to be dull.
An easy read, and follows the themes which I find common with Connie Willis - some (a little) romance, time travel, disjointed experiences...someone commented that she has a terrible editor. I suppose I can see a little of that, but in any case it got me through four days of tube journeys (and nearly got me run over by a bus). Cautionary note to readers, it pays to look up from a book while crossing the street. I'd be a little disappointed however if it was this book that finally led to my demise; I'd rather be clutching something meaty like Deadhouse Gates, or joyful like any of the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher, or something which shows my deep intellectual bent, like Steppenwolf, in my dirty little paws. Judge me not, ye ambulance carriers!
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